It was a blisteringly hot morning when my DofE group and I set out for what we hoped was going to be one of the best experiences of our lives, how naive we were. We set out along the grueling hills of the Longmynd only to realize, not half an hour later, that we had exited the campsite in the wrong direction and we needed to backtrack our steps entirely and start again. We were off to a great start!
Granted, it may or may not have been primarily due to my poor map skills that we immediately became lost, but I still maintain it could not have been entirely my fault, it was a team effort after all. An aspect which could not be overlooked — this expedition brought my team mates and I so much closer and made us so much stronger as a group. I am now so thrilled to say that I count the people who I experienced DofE with as some of the people who play the biggest part in my life, despite not being particularly close beforehand.
But of course, one cannot mention the Duke of Edinburgh award without referring to the food we had to ingest.The first day, I found, was by no means awful, my freshly packed lunch was still edible at this point and I had plenty a cereal bar to snack on during the journey. It was the following morning that things started to turn sour. My usual breakfast consists of a couple of pieces of toast but, thanks to my expedition leader, food was stuffed down my throat until I was too stuffed to move, regardless of her having my best interests at heart, I definitely did not appreciate this sentiment. Nevertheless we carried on with our trek until a couple of hours into the walk, the inevitable had happened. We all ran out of snacks. Now, to the average person this may not seem a particularly stressful situation but, to pubescent teenage girls prone to snarling out of hunger, this was the worst situation we could ever dream of encountering. Yet still we ploughed on.
Many of you will be unfamiliar with the Shropshire area of the UK, yet I swear there are more farm animals in those hills than any other place on the planet. We had to skirt along field edges in order to avoid rampaging bulls and hop scotch across the open grass land due to the excrements piled up, narrowly avoiding the complete destruction of our shoes and dignity. However, the most hysterical moment of the whole expedition came about when we encountered a misfortunate goat. One girl, let’s call her Jodie, had neglected to mention that she was deathly afraid of these pitiful farm animals so as the goat gazed at us, letting out a pitiful bleat, ‘Jodie’, the poor thing, screamed to a pitch I am not certain dogs could hear, and fell in her haste to get away from the ‘devil creature’, landing rather spectacularly in the largest pile of cow muck I have ever seen. As you could assume, this was not an event we could easily forget as we lorded this over her for months. Whoever says DofE is not entertaining is insane.
The expedition was definitely the most trying thing I have ever participated in, yet I do not regret a single thing. It taught me the strength and determination which I now readily apply to my life and the situations it got me into I know reflect upon with rose tinted glasses and nothing will ever compare to the pride one feels when they can stand up and say: ‘I completed DofE’. But that was only bronze, now, bring on the silver!
By: Jenny Dudson– you can visit her profile at: https://www.goodwall.org/jenny-dudson